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Composing a balanced vegetarian diet for children is a difficult mission for nutritionists and parents must collaborate on it.
Nutrition experts recommend that the diet of vegetarian children should be slightly restrictive in terms of food groups to ensure that it contains all the essential nutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) that children need for their growth and development, whether they are vegetarian or not.
Children have very different nutritional demands than adults because their bodies are constantly growing. Because the multiplication of cells in the body of children occurs regularly due to their development in weight and height, it is necessary to meet their nutritional needs with a wide group of foods.
1. The main meals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner should provide energy, protein, vitamins and minerals to the child. Where will they find them? Well, in foods such as cereals and derivatives, in tubers, legumes, olive oil and seeds, nuts and some sweets. They will also be found in milk and derivatives, eggs, as well as in fruits, vegetables, and vegetables.
2. Combination of foods. Considering the digestibility of food important, as well as protein quality. Combining some foods with others can provide a more complete protein.
3. Nutritional needs. The younger the child, the more nutritional demands it will have. Even if your stomach capacity is more limited, your food will have to provide sufficient calories and nutrients in a small volume. There should be no exaggeration in foods rich in fiber, which would lead to gas and even diarrhea.
4. Essential fatty acids. In the diet there should be foods rich in essential fatty acids and of the omega 3 family, present in nuts and seed oils.
5. Foods rich in calcium. Calcium will be absorbed by the child in the consumption of milk and derivatives. Its assimilation will depend a lot on vitamin D, so present also in dairy products. Controlled sun exposure ensures the endogenous formation of vitamin D.
6. Iron in the diet. If the diet includes eggs, cereals and legumes, there is no danger that the child will be deficient in iron. Otherwise, the child could develop anemia.
Breast milk or formula will always be the most important source of nutrition for the baby. The introduction of other foods should begin at approximately 3 months of age, depending on the degree of development and nutritional needs of the baby. Learn about the properties of some nutrients:
1. Iron. It is important during weaning because milk is a poor source of iron. After 6 months of age, the baby can try foods rich in iron such as plums, apricots, lentils, cereals, beans and very green vegetables. For its best absorption, it is recommended that you consume it accompanied by vitamin C, found in citrus foods.
2. Calcium. Breast milk or formula contains all the calcium that the baby needs. After weaning, cow's milk, soy, and derivatives such as cheese, as well as grains, and nuts, are a good source of calcium.
3. Protein. Breast milk or adapted milk are a good source of protein, which must be balanced to obtain the correct proportion of amino acids. It can be achieved by combining a cereal with beans or lentils, a cereal with nuts or seeds, etc.
4. Energy. Make sure your baby takes energy foods concentrated in lentils, vegetable oil, avocado, cheese, nuts, etc.
5. B12 vitamin. It is found mainly in foods of animal origin. Vegan babies can get vitamin B12 from some soy milks, low-salt yeast extract, or veggie burgers.
6. Vitamin D. Vitamin D is found in dairy products, eggs, margarine, cereals, and is synthesized by the action of sunlight on the skin. Babies initially get their vitamin D from breast milk or formula.
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